Football 'crazy' Ronald Koeman admits he leapt at Netherlands job

New Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman admits he was “crazy” about football after being sacked by Everton, which is why he jumped at the chance to manage the national team.

The 54-year-old was axed by the Toffees in late October after a 5-2 defeat by Arsenal left the club perilously close to the Premier League relegation zone.

However, by February he was back in a job after signing a four-and-a-half-year contract to take charge of his native country up until the 2022 World Cup.

With Netherlands failing to qualify for this summer’s tournament in Russia, Koeman admits his first challenge is to make sure they get through to the 2020 European Championship, but he is just glad to be back in football again.

“The end at Everton was very difficult, then you need time to relax afterwards,” he told a news conference ahead of Friday’s friendly with England in Amsterdam. “After my departure at Everton I have been crazy about football. This is the right moment for me to do the national team.

“For the team, but also for myself, it is a big challenge. We did not qualify for the last two tournaments. We have to work on that.

“I am really looking forward to this again. I am proud and look forward to qualifying for the European Championship.”

Following the Netherlands’ failure to qualify for the World Cup, a number of senior players like Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben announced their international retirements.

Koeman said before he was appointed manager he had an inkling Bayern Munich winger Robben could be persuaded to return, but now confirms that is not the case.

However, he has not ruled out a recall for 34-year-old former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie after he returned to his first senior club Feyenoord in January and scored his 300th career goal last week.

“At the moment he [Robben] played his last game I had the idea, from afar, that the door was still ajar,” added Koeman, who said Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk could be a possible new captain for the team.

“I also wanted to talk to him about what he thought of the last period with the team.

“That is no longer there. That was his choice. An Arjen Robben in top form still seems to me an added value for the Dutch national team.”

On Van Persie he said: “He will first have to be fit. He showed his class again yesterday [scoring twice in the 4-3 win over Zwolle].

“I did not say that I would never select him again and Van Persie did not say he stopped.”

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